Firefighters gain upper hand on Iron Chieftain

After more than three days of fighting a fire aboard self-discharging bulk carrier Iron Chieftain (IMO 9047740) at Port Kembla, New South Wales, Australia, firefighters have gained the upper hand.

On June 20th a vast quantity of expanding foam seeped down into the smouldering mass to cool temperatures in the hold.

By the afternoon of June 21, firefighters were watching two hot spots where re-ignition was a danger.

The fire was believed to have begun on the ship’s in-built conveyor belt, then spread to the hold as a load of the steel-making ingredient dolomite was being offloaded early on June 18th. The blaze appears to have taken hold in the ship’s rubber linings and gasses, making the below-deck environment unsafe for crews, which fought the fire from the deck and from the wharf. There was no environmental as all the water and foam used to fight the blaze remained within the ship.

Experts were called in to advise how much water the Iron Chieftain could take on without it posing a sinking risk. The weight of the water used roughly replaced that of the offloaded dolomite cargo. The ship will be handed over to investigating police and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau before an assessment can be made on whether the ship is salvageable.

1993-built, Australia-flagged, 34,422 gt Iron Chieftain is owned and managed by CSL Australia PTY Ltd of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is entered with Standard Club (UK & Americas Division) on behalf of CSL Australia Pty Ltd.

Swiss Re International SE UK Branch is claims leader for Hull & Machinery, with Gard having a subscription position.